Chinese American, born and raised in Boston, live and work in New York. I like thick-skinned dumplings, flip flops, baseball, and sour gummy worms. I write about things, sometimes snarkily. I review things, sometimes with opinions. And I do the Twitter thing @lilyvwong
The Boat Rocker, the latest novel from author Ha Jin, follows a journalist Feng Danlin as he becomes immersed in one particularly outrageous story. Danlin, the book’s narrator, works for a Chinese newspaper located in New York, and is assigned a story about his ex-wife Haili. His articles begin reporting on suspicions about the hype being bred around Haili’s forthcoming novel–that they are all exploitative lies. As the narrative unfolds, it centers around both their personal […] Continue »
Wendy Lee’s latest novel, The Art of Confidence, takes readers through the tale of a single forgery, its making and unmaking. Liu Qingwu is a poor artist hawking goods outside the Met in New York City, when he’s approached by a Chelsea dealer to recreate a work. Little does he know her motivations (to save her aunt’s gallery) or her intended price ($2 million). All he knows is that it is a job, and he long […] Continue »
Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen is the book you need right now, a walk through a diverse array of bad ass women across time and across continents. Subtitled “100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World,” this beautifully illustrated volume contains short profiles of women you know — Joan of Arc, Billie Holiday — and women you probably don’t — Khutulan, Junko Tabei. Each is entertainingly and accessibly written. I speak only for myself […] Continue »
The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam is a moving and intimate portrait of a man caught up in Sri Lanka’s civil war. Set in and around a refugee camp, this debut novel offers a peek into just a few short days of Dinesh’s life. Arudpragasm delves deep into this one man’s thought process, drawing it out in eloquent and elegant prose. Moments that take but a few seconds traverse multiple pages, yet the book does not feel […] Continue »
The Cambodian Dancer: Sophany’s Gift of Hope is a beautiful children’s picture book about a young Cambodian girl forced to leave her country who finds strength in traditional dance steps. The illustrations are well-done and in a style that matches the spirit of the book’s title character Sophany. Though not written by a Cambodian, it is based on the true story of a friend of the author. As to be expected, the book only lightly touches […] Continue »
Jade Chang’s novel The Wangs vs. The World follows one crazy Chinese American family as they try to piece their lives back together after the economic recession of 2008. Mr. Charles Wang is a self-made man who immigrated from Taiwan and made a fortune with his beauty product empire. But a series of bad choices leaves him completely emptied out (house and cars included). His family, including his second wife and three (almost all) adult children […] Continue »
Peter Ho Davies’ latest novel The Fortunes traverses 150 years of Chinese American history through the stories of four characters. Beginning with Ah Ling, biracial servant to railroad baron Charles Crocker in the late nineteenth century, the book moves on to Anna May Wong in the 1930s, then to a friend of Vincent Chin who was murdered in Detroit in 1982, and lastly to a biracial father about to adopt a daughter from China. These four […] Continue »
Author of Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop and Who We Be, Jeff Chang’s latest book We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation is an incisive series of essays looking at race in America. Drawing on recent events, including Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, and #oscarssowhite, Chang outlines a contemporary crisis around issues of race, division, and a repeating cycle that needs to be halt. We Gon’ Be Alright is, at its heart, a call to action. But it […] Continue »
Aubergine, a new play written by Julia Cho, opens today at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. Running through October 2, it’s an emotional story about family, death, and food. Ray’s father is home on hospice with his son Ray, a first-generation Korean American chef, who is struggling with how to manage and how to cope. To notify his father’s brother, he calls on his ex-girlfriend Cornelia to tell him in Korean. When his uncle unexpectedly shows up with a soup recipe, […] Continue »
It has been a good summer for fun-loving, ass-kicking Asian American superheroines, and if you’re not already, get on board for C.B. Lee’s Not Your Sidekick. Its biggest flaw? Being the first in the series, leaving us on the edge waiting to find out what happens to Jessica Tran (I did not realize I was getting myself into a cliffhanger until I was off the cliff and there were no pages left). Jessica is the daughter of mid-class […] Continue »
Currently starring in Broadway Bounty Hunter at Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires, Scott Watanabe has had a long career as an actor, including roles in Allegiance and The Phantom of the Opera. In the tradition of 8Asians, we asked him eight questions and he offers some sage advice for those who aspire to the stage. Tell us a little about yourself, e.g. What’s your background? How did you get into acting? I was born in 1959 in […] Continue »
Green Card: A New Musical takes on immigrant artists and the American dream in a new musical from young director Dimo Kim. Playing at Theatre at St. Clement’s until August 26, it focuses on the story of Han, an actor and a South Korean immigrant living in Harlem with an expired visa who, as a result, can’t find work. And because he can’t find work, he can’t get an artists visa. Hijinks ensue. Han finds […] Continue »
Kiwi: *WHOOSH!* You didn't get it the first several times and you certainly won't get it the next 20 times, but I'll say it again: culture... – Are Asians the Smartest Race?
Lucius Clarus: You spread more squid ink and never address the obvious fact in the room -- different races clearly have different abilities and temperaments. You avoided... – Are Asians the Smartest Race?
Kiwi: *WHOOSH!* By this point, my point is in another multiverse. Japan and the Asian tiger economies are preferable to Eastern Europe by all measures. But... – Are Asians the Smartest Race?
Sad Clown: So what? The Mongols kicked Europe's ass. So what? "Beside the point"? What is even your point? Europeans are smarter than Chinese because they beat... – Are Asians the Smartest Race?
Lucius Clarus: Beside the point. The outcome was as if they never created gunpowder weapons. The Euros kicked their arses. – Are Asians the Smartest Race?
Lucius Clarus: Lol. If you say so. Your talking points are weak and pathetic. At its worst, Eastern Europe was preferable to India, Bangladesh, China or pretty... – Are Asians the Smartest Race?